Marketing … the art of being “Steered”

Greetings Carnivores,

Do you know that big Swedish box store ?? The one adorned with a bright Blue and Yellow paint scheme to honour their national flag ?? You know the one … it starts with an “I” and ends with an “A” with a “K” and an “E” in the middle ??? (spell it out folks, IKEA … which, I’ve come to learn is actually Swedish for divorce!!) 🙂

Kidding aside, if you’ve ever shopped there you’ll know how once you’re inside the “maze”, you’re pretty much FORCED to ‘follow’ the arrows on the floor in order to get out. It doesn’t matter if you pick up the first thing you see, or run in there for light bulbs and a one dollar hot dog in the cafeteria.

Just like cattle being herded, you’re swept along by a ebbing tide of humanity through every corner of the store, and if you try to return to the front door, you’ll find that task about as daunting as a spawning Salmon trying to make it back upstream to the place of his/her birth.

While in University I was fascinated by the work of (click here:) B.F. Skinner, an American psychologist who believed in the idea that human free will was actually an illusion. He believed stimulus and response are the driving factors in human behaviour and as such, people can be manipulated to do something by stimulation and reward.

Do you know that fully 61% of all people who shop at IKEA, ultimately end up leaving with something they did NOT expect to buy?

Of course, I’m not spilling secrets … any 1st year University marketing student knows that. Folks, this is just simply a cold hard truth about retail marketing, and not many marketers do it better than that big, Blue and Yellow Swedish box.

Oh, they ALL do it and believe me, like the big Blue and Yellow Box … some do it MUCH better than others.  Have you ever been into a a big “Club” store, found something you didn’t go in for and, think to yourself … “hmmmm, … I’d like to have that but, I’ll get it later”, only to go back another time, and find it gone for the season with NO reasonable expectation it will return to the sales floor next year.

They keep you guessing all the time and the next thing you know …  WHAMO !! IMPULSE BUY.

The reason displays are CONSTANTLY changing on the retail floor is … yup, you guessed it … to keep you moving through the store. Have you ever wondered why there’s no express line at those big “Club” stores?? The answer, quite simply is …

THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO COME IN FOR A POUND OF BUTTER AND A SNACK SAMPLE!!

When you wander though a store, make no mistake … your buying experience is being ‘directed’.

Staples … what are food “staples”?

Bread, milk and eggs  MAY be what you came in for but … have you noticed the big display of cookies, beside the milk, the chocolate syrup beside the iced cream or the steak spice and BBQ sauce beside the meat counter?

Impulse items.

Vendors pay a HUGE premium to have their products predominantly displayed on the end-cap and forget about the “wall” of merchandise you have to walk past as you first enter the store … THOSE vendors pay HUGE for a slot on the “fence”, and you my friends have to run the “gauntlet”

Anyway … once again I’ve gotten carried away telling a story so I’ll tie this back into meat.

You too are being ‘steered’ (did you like my pun??) through the meat counter, but in a very helpful way. The meat business is exactly the same. Not many people come into a store knowing EXACTLY what they want, and that’s where we come in. There will always be a smiling, helpful butcher. You ask us questions, … we reply with questions of our own. You ask us to make a suggestion, and we start by asking the obvious general questions:

Are you looking for a steak or a roast? Ahhh … a roast.

What type of roast were you looking for? Don’t know ??

Ok,  how were you planning to cook it? Ahhh, … the BBQ.

How many people are you planning to feed? 15?

Ok, how much money would you like to spend? $100.00.

Let’s see …

I usually start with a little education, for example: through the questions I’ve asked and the answers you’ve given, I know you want to roast something on the BBQ. Whether it’s going to be spit roasted or cooked with indirect heat doesn’t matter because, we’ve just ruled out a roast from the Chuck portion of the front quarter. Don’t get me wrong … I LOVE Chuck (Blade, Short Rib, Cross Cut or Arm roasts) … just NOT dry roasted on the BBQ.

More about these in another post to come but for now, Chuck roasts are more suited to long slow cook times that render their fat, sinew and collagen wonderfully soft and chew-able, hence the designation “Pot Roast”.

Before I get a note from my blogging friends (click here:) The Patrons of the Pit, and (click here:) Chef Jeff Parker saying that you CAN actually cook these roasts on the BBQ … you’d just have to do it covered, low and slow.

Alright, … because of the way you want to cook it, I can provide you with suggestions as to what to buy. You have also told me how many people you’re feeding AND how much you’re prepared to spend.

Back to the education part.

Next, I’ll tell you that the tenderness of ANY muscle is ultimately determined by HOW MUCH WORK IT DOES IN LIFE such as: the Loin muscles (Rib, Strip, Tenderloin and Sirloin) are more tender than the Leg muscles (Eye of Round, Outside Round,Inside Round and Sirloin Tip).

The leg muscles will still give you a nice roast but because these muscles are used for support and mobility, they are TOUGHER than the Loin. The loin muscles don’t do much work which equals … a more tender roast.

You can read more on this topic in a post I wrote last year called (Click here:) “To Steak or not to Steak … that is the question”

Now, … you’ve already told me how much you want to spend and with the information I’ve given you, you are in a better position to make an informed decision on what you’d like to buy.

Ask all the questions you like … there are no stupid ones. I’m here to help.

In the meantime, stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Rib Eye 101: How-To Grill A Great Steak

Greetings Carnivores,

I’ve been meaning to write something about the beef Rib section for some time now. Lucky you … today’s the day.

The beef carcass has 13 rib bones per side, and the front quarter includes 11 of them. The Chuck has 4 bones, which leaves 7 for the Rib section. I’m often asked the difference between a Rib roast, a Standing Rib roast and a Prime Rib roast. Truth is … they’re all exactly the same cut with the only ‘real’ difference being the “Prime” designation refers to restaurant quality.

Valentine’s day has come and gone for another year and I know many of you like to take your significant other out for a nice 5 star meal at a fancy-schmancy restaurant and for me, nothing beats a Rib steak. The Rib eye is the same steak, just without the bone.

Chef Jeff Parker, a fellow I have mad respect for, has written a great Rib eye post on his Blog, and it ties very nicely into what I wanted to say re: the Rib section so, today with his kind permission I present his post, re-blogged on my site.
I hope you enjoy it.

Please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential) and you’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Get To Grilling!

Grilled-Rib-Eye-101 Rib eye is hands-down my favorite steak and a great one for the grill.  The marbling in a rib eye makes it juicy delicious and pretty hard to overcook – at least from a dried out point-of view. Personally, I think it is at it’s best when cooked to the rare-side of medium rare, however is still juicy and delicious when cooked to medium+.  You’ll have to keep an eye (pun intended) on them to watch for flare-ups – a small sacrifice for all that well-marbled flavor! If flare-ups do occur, simply move them over to a cooler part of the grill.

Butcher shop lesson: Rib eye steaks are cut from the primal forequarter rib/upper chuck portion of the beef.  From there, the primal is cut into a standing rib roast a.k.a.  prime rib (but only if it is prime grade beef!). If the roast is then sliced into…

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Flecks, Specks, Streaks and Ribbons … the key to a well marbled steak

Greeting Carnivores,

I often find it funny in a really tragic sort of way, that the very BEST steaks in the display case are the ones that frequently remain unsold. How can this be?

Simple … education.  Hopefully, that’s where I can be of some service.

Many, MANY times I come across a particular primal Strip loin or Rib eye that is really exceptional.   You can’t easily tell by looking at the outside but, once you start cutting and, it reveals a really WELL marbled texture with specks, flecks and ribbons of well dispersed fat throughout the lean flesh … well, I either set them aside for myself or, I tray them up for you. Here’s the problem: more often than you would think, folks leave the best ones behind because … ewwwww TOO MUCH FAT !!!.

I believe people just don’t know what to look for in a steak … the answer is staring them in the face … MARBLING!

Beef marbling chart

Beef Marbling chart

So …  what happens to all these fantastic, unsold steaks? Well … it’s wonderful, and sad all at once.

When meat remains unsold it is ground into hamburger. Why is it sad? Well … you the consumer just missed out on a beautiful steak because you didn’t know what to look for. And THAT’S sad.

So why is it wonderful? Well … I get to buy some REALLY exceptional Ground beef.   🙂

Back to the Beef … when I’m looking for a steak, I’m looking for one with good even marbling with streaks, flecks and ribbons of fat dispersed throughout the lean flesh. I lean toward something around 4-6 on the chart above. You NEED some fattiness to keep the meat tender while it’s cooking. Remember people FAT = FLAVOUR!!! Restaurant chefs will look for something in the 9-10 range … these steaks will be even MORE tender.

So, … everything in moderation folks … you can’t eat this stuff on a daily basis.

Well, I guess you COULD, as long as you have a portable defibrillator … just in case. It depends on how much you want to punish your arteries.

Oh, and … I believe I’ll have the Angioplasty for dessert please … 🙂

Marbling 003

Flecks, specks, streaks and ribbons … a WELL marbled steak!

Ahhh, red meat … enuff to make a Carnivores heart go bumpity bump.

“Honey … guess what’s for dinner?”

Until next time Carnivores stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Champagne taste, beer budget … save some money buying Rib Eyes, Blade Eyes and Strip Loins

Greetings Carnivores,

Today, let’s satisfy a primal urge. STEAK !!

My favourite cut on the beef carcass is, without a doubt the Rib Eye. When I’m feeling like splurging at a fancy restaurant, there’s no other choice for me. BUT, … when it comes to eating Rib Eyes at home, there are a couple of things you can do to lessen the financial pain at the cash register and STILL eat Rib Eyes !!

The anatomy of the carcass 101.

DSCF4225[1]

4 beautiful Rib Eye Steaks, cut from each end and 2 from the centre

Although the beef carcass (and any other carcass for that matter) is sectioned into primal and sub primal ‘cuts’ the truth is a muscle doesn’t just stop and start at the designated dotted line on the big (click here) Beef chart (The American Angus Association) hanging on the wall in the Butcher shop. Here’s what I mean: take a look at the photo above. These four steaks I cut from the same boneless Rib Eye. Beginning with the one at the top, you can see the Eye is quite small and the cap is fairly big (this incidentally is the BEST steak on the carcass and the one I ALWAYS look for) but as you proceed down you see the Eye and Cap change places meaning, the Eye gets bigger until the cap disappears. The loin muscle runs almost the entire length of the animals back, beginning in the blade section and continuing all the way to the Sirloin Butt. Along the way it’s called a few different things too. The Blade Eye, Rib Eye, Strip Loin and finally ending at the Sirloin Butt.

Follow me here people … here’s how to save some money.

The next time you’re hankering for a Rib Eye, go to the Butcher Shop and ask your meat professional for some Blade Eye steaks cut from the first 4 to 6 inches of the shoulder closest to the Rib section. They should resemble the 1st steak in the picture above. The ‘Eye’ in the Blade section is the same ‘Eye’ in the Rib section (smaller and fattier than the Rib section but just as tender) and A FRACTION OF THE PRICE!!

You can still buy Rib Eyes cheaper too (not as cheaply as the Blade Eye mind you) by simply buying bone-in rib steaks or better yet a Prime Rib roast. If you get the roast just ask the butcher to ‘chine’ the bones for you. This facilitates cutting the roast into steaks at home by simply cutting between the bones.

And there you have it folks … I know there’s still snow on the ground but, let’s spark up the grill and put some meat to the flame.

Stay hungry Carnivores.

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To Steak or not to Steak … that’s the question.

Greetings Carnivores,

I’m often asked about Steak and how to treat a tough one. Truth is, there’s no easy answer because Steak is a ‘cut’ and ANYTHING can be a ‘Steak’. And any of them can be rendered ‘tough’ if not handled properly. To understand this you have to remember: there are no bad cuts, just bad ways to handle (cook) certain cuts. Think of it this way; the tenderness of a muscle (and ALL muscle is meat) is determined by how much work it does.

So, the Rib (Prime Rib, Standing Rib, Rib Eye), Loin (NY Strip, T-bone, Club, Wing, Porter House, Filet Mignon), and Sirloin Butt (Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin) are all considered to be non hard-working with the tenderloin (Filet) being a truly “floating” muscle that does nothing.

The Shoulder (Blade, Cross Cut, Short Rib) the Hip (Rump, Inside Round, Outside Round, Eye of Round, Sirloin Tip, Knuckle) are all hard-working muscles, used for support and mobility.

Ok so, the non hard-working muscles are tender BUT, most of them lack the heavy connective tissue, (collagen) and fat content necessary to impart flavour. THIS is why a Blade Steak (when cooked properly) has a TON of flavour and (at the extreme opposite ) your Filet Mignon arrives at the table, wrapped in Bacon.

Now, the addition of Bacon (in my opinion) to ANYTHING, improves it in ways that just can’t be measured (hell, I think Bacon Shampoo would be GREAT!!) but, I digress (again).

Expensive cuts in high end restaurants, come wrapped in bacon or served with wonderful sauces and crusts (Blue Cheese and bread crumbs comes to mind)  because these things add FLAVOUR to an otherwise dull (tender, but dull) piece of meat.

Seriously though, connective tissue and fat are essential for imparting flavour because, as they cook (SLOWLY) these wonderful, fibres of connective tissue and fat break down, soften and bathe the meat in FLAVOUR.

Care needs to be taken when cooking these tougher cuts however. You can’t throw them uncovered in a high heat oven or onto the grill, you’ll be very disappointed.

Fear not Carnivores, there are TONS of things you CAN do to help. For example: you could Marinate. This will assist in the tenderizing process as well as adding levels of flavour. You could use a Meat mallet to break down the connective tissue and fibres but, nothing will whip a tough cut into submission like Braising.

Braising simply refers to cooking, with moisture (liquid) and, you can use anything. Water of course is a liquid but why stop there?? Orange juice and Beef LOVE each other (and the citric acid helps tenderize), Red or White Wine are great too (just remember, … if you wouldn’t drink it, DON’T cook with it), how about Beef or Chicken Stock? Beer anyone? Tomato juice? Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup is a HUGE favourite of mine … the sky is the limit, just watch out for added salt (it’s EVERYWHERE!!).

Finally Carnivores, I’m often asked about searing before braising and the answer is: what ever floats your boat. There are food scientists that are ADAMANT about NOT searing because it evaporates surface moisture and, there are Chefs that swear by it saying it adds a wonderful flavour. I have had success both ways.

I’m going to discuss the benefits of Low Temperature cooking in another post but for now, I encourage you to experiment. Let’s face it folks, I’m a Butcher NOT a Chef. BUT, I LOVE to cook and have been using my friends and family for eons as Guinea Pigs.

I’ve discovered some “Happy Accidents” along the way so, I’m only too happy to share what I’ve learned.

admit it ... your mouth is watering

admit it … your mouth is watering

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